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Airwaves: April 9, 2010

Rook’s Internet Radio

You may not know the name John Rook. But knowledgeable fans of top-40 radio do. Rook is the man who made KFI (640 AM) what it once was: one of the last of the bigger-than-life AM powerhouses, when he programmed it as a high-energy top-40 station from 1976 to 1992. He also programmed WCFL -- Chicago’s Voice of Labor, as it was called, due to its ownership by the Chicago Federation of Labor -- as a bigger than life top-40 powerhouse in the 1970s.

Rook knows radio. Good radio. So when he launches an internet-based music station, people take note.

Rook’s latest creation is called Hit Parade Radio, and is available at Longtime listeners of SoCal radio may remember that Rook used the ides of a Hit Parade when he was at KFI. This time it isn’t current music he is focussing on, but rather oldies.

“While most ‘oldies’ stations feature just a few hundred hits aimed at a younger demographic, Hit Parade Radio relies on thousands beginning with the ‘50s for a thirty-year period,” he said, adding that the format “concentrates on the highly under served listener, those over 45 years of age.”

Those under served listeners represent a growing demographic, the web site says, and one with money. They use the internet, surf longer and go to more pages than their college-aged peers. What better way to reach them than to use the internet, playing the songs they grew up with?

Well, maybe. The problem with internet-based radio stations is that it is more difficult than traditional radio to take the music with you, since you need an internet connection wherever you want to listen. Hit Parade has this covered as well, however: it is working on signing up affiliates to carry the programming on local stations. In fact, the great Wink Martindale, one of the on-air talents of the station, told me that the internet stream is a “test stream,” and that the station is looking to do a nationwide launch this Summer.

The station includes the on-air talents of Martindale (8 AM to 12 noon locally) along with the legendary Chicago SuperJock Larry Lujack Noon to 4 PM. The variety if music is impressive ... check it out and let me know what you think.

Wave Goodbye

Longtime Wave personality Lawrence Tanter -- one of the good guys of radio -- has been let go at The Wave (94.7 FM) as the station continues its evolution away from “smooth jazz” and toward “smooth adult contemporary. Also let go was Barbara Blake.

I noticed longtime KOST (103.5 FM) personality Kim Amidon is now on the air staff; she is currently working fill-in. My guess is that she’ll soon have a full-time shift as The Wave goes straight after KOST in the coming months. No coincidence: Jhani Kaye is the programmer of The Wave after spending most of his life in the same position at KOST. Is a name change in the works? This could get interesting ...

Less HD?

Ibiquity Digital has been throwing around some technical information regarding HD radio on AM. One idea has AM stations using only one sideband for HD, allowing the analog signal to be widened -- sound better -- while lowering interference to neighbors.

Unfortunately the cost is reduced HD coverage, signal stability and sound quality. Is it time to go back to analog wideband AM stereo, or just time to go all digital on AM? Thoughts?


Copyright © 2010 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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